Friday, April 30, 2010

Hot Docs - And Everything is Going Fine

I remember seeing Spalding Gray on stage performing 'Morning, Noon and Night'.  He told the story of battling depression, ongoing therapy, and the serious challenges of starting a new family at 52.  Most memorable of all, he ended the show dancing to Chumba Wumba, mimicking all the members of the family in a celebration that filled the stage.  It was so joyful a dance, so uplifting.  So hopeful.

Which is partly why I was so seriously pissed off at him for killing himself in 2004.  I was actually angry when I heard the news.  Seeing him in the film tonight was like seeing an old friend.

Gray is is the subject of And Everything is Going Fine, Steven Soderbergh's documentary film.  SS didn't show up for the Canadian premiere (I admit to feeling slighted).

The best thing about the documentary is Spalding.  It is like seeing another monologue, pieced together from performances through the years.  It offers insight into his struggles (his mother's nervous breakdowns, her suicide, his Oedipal issues, years of therapy, messed up relationships, 'the' car accident).  But it doesn't play like a tragedy, and there is no reference to Spalding's own suicide.  The film just ends.  Roll footage of baby Spalding in his mother's arms.

Near the beginning he talks about how he would go to sleep with his brother questioning his mother about what happens when you die.  Is that it?  You just die and are gone? Forever?  Forever and ever?  Forever and ever and ever?  Forever and ever and ever and ever?  The repetition lulling him to sleep.  Spalding said he never believed in reincarnation.  Now as he is dead, he speaks to us on camera saying his monologues were his personal reincarnation. 

I wanted more.  More Spalding.  I guess I am not as angry as I was that day in '04 when I heard about his suicide, and that is as much due to the passing of time as it is to the insights offered in the film.  And that wonderful dancing scene from Morning, Noon and Night.   

I so hoped to find the dancing scene on You Tube.  It is joy personified.  I can find Spalding.  I can find Chumba Wumba.  But I can't find Spalding dancing to Chumba Wumba. You will just have to imagine.  Either that or see the documentary...

We'll be singing
When we're winning
We'll be singing
I get knocked down
But I get up again
You're never going to keep me down


Giulia said...

I can imagine it...yes, I saw him several times too but not the doc yet. (I think it'll be here for festival next month, lost track.) I know what you mean about being angry re: the situation but I've lost so many people this way that if I kept angry, I'd give myself a stroke. But I do understand it, yes. What I always explain to people is that when someone does this, they are not in their 'right mind' - they couldn't help it. And also that suicide is often an impulsive act (even if one has thought about it for years). That's why it's so important for people to try & intervene. But there's the difficult part. He was so high's very common, esp. in creative and/or highly verbal (& if he wasn't, who was!:) types. ciao...I was hoping to see news of your trip. Perhaps I need to look a bit more.


Nicki BH said...

It's always such an education reading your blog. Thanks